Update 5 p.m.:

This is a quote from the NWS (National Weather Service) in Reno this afternoon. They too see my concern that the snow levels may stay low. “SNOW LEVELS ARE STILL A BIT UNCERTAIN THOUGH…THE SNOW LEVELS COULD BE AS LOW AS 6000 FEET IN THE TAHOE BASIN OR DOWN TO LAKE LEVEL THROUGH THE ENTIRE EVENT.” The storm is moving in quickly as you can see on satellite. It may already be snowing when you wake up which means the heavy snow will be here by Friday night. Snow amounts at lake level and Truckee could be 12-18 inches by Saturday morning before the possible change to rain, and 2 feet or more on the mountains. I also forgot to mention winds. We will see winds greater than 50 mph in the basin and over 100 mph on the ridges Saturday and Sunday. Batten down the hatches.

From This Morning:

I hope everyone heeded my warning last weekend that it was your last chance for shopping. I don’t recommend traveling this weekend.

This morning’s model runs are even colder with the storm this weekend. Everyone is complaining about the storm being warm but this is not warm for a storm with these dynamcs. A storm pulling moisture from all the way back by Hawaii should be much warmer. We are lucky that the polar jet will be merging with the subtropical jet providing colder air. We also have upward verticle motion that will help with the cooling of the air. The thicknesses I normally look at for snow levels has the snow level below lake level the entire storm. With the warmer subtropical air being drawn in there may be a warm layer that causes the snow levels to come up just above lake level during the day on Saturday at the height of the storm. Then the snow levels come back down below lake level through Sunday. So everyone is in for heavy snow and lots of it. This is the kind of snow that brings down power lines and gets lots of people stuck on the road. I would expect I-80 to close at some point.

The snow could start as early as tomorrow morning and then become heavy tomorrow night. Snow levels start well below lake level so several inches should accumulate even downtown and at the lake by Saturday morning. The heavy snow, with 2+ inches an hour rates, should continue all the way through Sunday until the cold front comes through and ends the heavy snow. The liquid amounts have not changed so snowfall on the resorts above 7000 ft. should be in the 3-5 foot range by Sunday night. At lake level it will be in the 1.5-3 foot range with the lower amounts due to the possibility of rain mixing in on Saturday. Plenty of heavy snow on Sunday after the snow levels come back down. The snow showers should linger into Monday with the moist flow off the Pacific continuing.

The models are still struggling a little with the Tuesday storm on snow levels. This morning the snow levels looked lower for the Tuesday-Wednesday storm as well, but the latest run of the GFS digs the storm so deep off the coast that it loses the polar jet and pumps up milder air. This will make a big diffence between a lot of snow at lake level or rain on Tuesday, but a cold front on Wednesday brings heavy snow back below lake level similar to Sunday. The two storms look almost identical with identical snowfall amounts. Just double the weekend amounts by Thursday so that is 6-10 feet on the resorts. Many of the resorts are in the 150 inch range already this season for total snowfall, and another 100 inches would put them at 50% or more of their total average annual snowfall. Winter doesn’t even start till Tuesday so that is crazy.

The low in the Northeast Pacific directing the storms into Central CA this week will shift back Northwest as the blocking high at around 170w moves back near the Aleutian Islands. This is the same pattern we had last week with milder and drier conditions expected the end of next week into Christmas weekend. There is a strong storm that could push the jetstream back into Northern CA by the day after Christmas on that Sunday for a return of snow. The pattern then looks to continue to repeat itself as the blocking high pressure moves back to a position around 170w in the Pacific. That would bring a return of the strong jetstream to Northern CA by the end of the month with more storms and snow. I don’t see any reasons looking at the long-term teleconnection forecasts why this pattern should change. If anything it may just get colder with the Arctic Oscillation going negative and the displaced Arctic Air looking for someplace to go. Once the blocking high over Greenland weakens towards the end of the month the colder troughs should have an easier time coming into the West Coast instead of the East.

Get your flashlights, candles, generators, gas, groceries and anything else so that you can just sit and watch out the window this weekend. I will be updating all weekend throughout the day on snow levels and snowfall. Please send me your snowfall totals. You can also sign up on my twitter account for live updates on the storm as I am out and about tracking the storm. BA

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